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The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0340706466
ISBN-10: 0340706465
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A work of revisionism that holds most other studies up to close scrutiny, this is an important book and one that demands careful reading. Cohn's encyclopedic and polyglot command of the secondary sources, combined with the sheer volume of records that he has scoured for his evidence, presents a dense and detailed read...A serious revisionist study...essential reading for any scholar whose work touches on the plague or the Renaissance. (History: Reviews of New Books)

A wealth of information. (Death Studies)

Delightfully readable. Conveys an ambitious and ultimately convincing argument in precise, often amusing prose. Cohn displays a combination of academic rigor and the ability to render the complex intriguing. (The Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Samuel K. Cohn, Professor of Medieval History, University of Glasgow.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Education Publishers (July 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340706465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340706466
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.3 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,535,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By H. Campbell on December 18, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel compelled to counter the San Diegan's review. While there is a lot of information in there to buttress the author's apparently overwhelmingly convincing premise, it is true that only the most statistical minded will find all of the quantitive information intriguing. I skipped over most of the charts and diagrams, but there is no denying that much of the author's recounting is facinating, especially with regards to the social implications of each plague outbreak. Anyone interested in the middle ages should read (most of) this book.
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Format: Paperback
Samuel Cohen is a professor of Medieval History, his book written for academic audiences (or the serious armchair historian). In _The Black Death Transformed_, Cohen reconsidered whether the 'Great Mortality' of 1348 - 1351 was indeed Yersina pestis - the bubonic plague. Contrary to most contemporary historians (Plagues and Peoples, Disease and History, The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe, The Black Death: A Chronicle of the Plague, Black Death, In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made), Cohen argues that the disease that struck Western Europe in the 14th century (and remained in successive waves of epidemic outbreak into the 18th century) couldn't have been Y. pestis.

Cohen's argument rests on several claims:
1) the medieval plague's pattern of infection was fundamentally different from modern outbreaks, "recurring year after year with mounting and then erratic ups and downs in mortality before declining.
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17 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dinobrago on August 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
"It is clear from the evidence presented in this account that the Black Death was almost any disease other than the rat-based bubonic plague whose bacillus was discovered in 1894."

The author starts off well and the premise is fascinating and well supported. No one can claim that the author has not done his homework. However, the catalog of study after study may play well for an academic treatise, it becomes monotonous and mind-numbing for the rest of the world.

I can't imagine someone with out an advanced degree and a really keen interest in the research of the black plague finding this book enjoyable. After reading the first five chapters or so I ended up reading the first two pages of each chapter and moving on.

Definitely would not recommend this for the lay person. Extremely marginal recommendation even for a scientist unless you are really specialized in this area.
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